The shift to remote operations is in some ways deepening a justice gap.
With courthouses closed or operating on a skeletal basis to limit the spread of the coronavirus, self-represented litigants can no longer rely on the in-person help available at courthouses, such as resource centers staffed by court employees and legal aid lawyers.
Courts are moving information and operations online during the pandemic, which is also creating barriers to access.
The “digital divide” is not a new problem for the legal system, but court officials and legal aid organizations could rely on workarounds in the past.
Even if people didn’t have a computer or internet at home, they could come to the courthouse or use a computer and printer at a public library or at a friend’s or a family member’s house.
With libraries and other public buildings closed and stay-at-home orders limiting movement, however, those options have evaporated.